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Digitalization in the manufacturing SME sector

Every medium-sized industrial company faces individual challenges in the course of digitization. To keep the hurdle as low as possible, digital solutions must be flexible and easy to implement in existing, individual machinery. To be able to meet the requirements of digitization themselves, our colleagues at thyssenkrupp Materials Services developed their in-house IoT platform toii® a few years ago, which is now also used by external customers and is the ideal solution for effective and low-threshold digitization of medium-sized manufacturing companies.

How does toii® work?

toii® is a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) as well as an IIoT platform. In the final expansion stage, production orders can be executed transparently, efficiently and on schedule by toii by linking production and intralogistics management.

In addition to the final expansion stage, toii® also offers simple entry points - for example, with toii.Lights, which enables the collection of machine and operating data even in very old plants without electronic interfaces.

toii® masters about 100 interfaces, with the help of which different machines can communicate with each other and thus link and streamline production chains. With toii, all machines speak the same language where otherwise different data formats and interfaces of heterogeneous machine parks made the way to digitalization difficult. The part responsible for connecting the machines in toii® corresponds to the role of an interpreter.

In this way, the IIoT solution helps to save costs and valuable time. In addition to the collection and exchange of production data, toii® enables the automation of many production processes, the connection of machinery to production control, intralogistics or to an enterprise resource planning system. In short: toii® helps industrial production leap into the digital age and provides the basis for further optimization, e.g. through continuously measurable lean initiatives, advanced data analytics and AI.

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Production plants usually operate both modern machines and older models: toii® is the IoT interface that enables the different machines to communicate with each other.

toii® in use by customers

Following its successful use in its own company, thyssenkrupp Materials Services is now also offering the digital end-to-end solution to external customers. "We are delighted that toii® is currently being used by two new customers from two very different industries," explains Sebastian Lang, Managing Director of thyssenkrupp Materials IoT:

1. Since 2019 thyssenkrupp Materials IoT has been advising the "hidden champion" GGK on the digitalization of its production. Today, the subsidiary of the Grün group of companies relies on the toii® platform developed by thyssenkrupp Materials IoT to extensively network its production. This enables more efficient, automated processes in internal value creation while ensuring quality. As a leading specialist, GGK manufactures plastic cable routing systems for surface-mounted electrical installations and produces over 3,000 different products at its Greifenstein site in Hesse, Germany, which are sold in 28 countries. "From the successful implementation of the toii® IoT platform, we expect significant performance increases and a comprehensive optimization of production control," says GGK Managing Director Eckhard Müller. "We attest to the project managers at thyssenkrupp Materials IoT real enabler qualities."

2. Steel Service Krefeld is also introducing toii® to digitally network analog machines and collect data for further processing. This means that the production status of each machine can be viewed at any time, and operating and maintenance times can be optimized. Steel Service Krefeld sells machines, tool steel and metal powder for additive manufacturing. The family-run company with locations in Germany, the UK, the USA and Canada is a pioneer of Industry 4.0. For example, information from goods receipt to picking is digitally recorded in the in-house ERP in Krefeld and is available in real time in the online store.

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Digitalization is a top priority at thyssenkrupp Materials Services.

A reliable companion when it comes to digitalization: "Materials as a Service"

"After the successful internal use of toii®, it is even nicer to see how our IoT solution now also simplifies everyday life in our customers' production facilities," says Sebastian Lang. The development of innovative, data-driven business models such as toii® are also part of the materials trader's "Materials as a Service" strategic development.

As part of "Materials as a Service", colleagues at thyssenkrupp Materials Services are consistently expanding their supply chain service business: From consulting to the implementation of IIoT technologies to support throughout the lifecycle of the solutions and operation of the underlying platform.